06 January 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Guest Post by Gayle Trent, Author of Claus of Death: A Myrtle Crumb Mystery (Myrtle Crumb Mystery Series)

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I generally write while my children are at school. I try to get in a chapter a day.

When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?

I try to be, but it seems they’re always doing something I hadn’t anticipated! I think when you let the story flow naturally, and you’re sometimes surprised by what the characters do, then your readers will be too.

Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Deaver, Mary Higgins Clark. I love these authors because they write terrific mysteries and thrillers. I especially love how Dean Koontz blends humor and heart with his mysteries. You care about his books so much because you feel so invested in his characters. Take Koontz’s character, Odd Thomas—he’s a fry cook who is trying to live as normal a life as possible despite having a supernatural gift that constantly makes his life abnormal. Thanks to Koontz’s deft writing style, readers (this reader, anyway) love Odd Thomas within reading the first two pages of the book.

Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

The part of promotion that I love is going to new places and meeting people, including readers and other authors I’ve met before. I sometimes participate in online group chats, which can be fun, but they’re also nerve-wracking. People are asking questions all at once, and you’re trying to determine whether the question was meant for you or for someone else and making sure you’ve answered every question you were asked and thanked everyone who paid you a compliment. I do giveaways when books are released, and at other times throughout the year. For example, I’m part of a blog group called Fatal Foodies that is doing a trick-or-treat event on Halloween. (Readers will be given links to authors’ websites or other places where they can receive “treats,” such as enter book giveaways, get a free cross-stitch pattern or recipe, or see a cute picture or joke.)

Tell us a little bit about where you live.

I live in a rural town in Virginia that is actually becoming more urban by the day. Still, we live far enough out in the country that we can escape the hustle-and-bustle when we need to, and close enough to jump right into that hustle-and-bustle when we’ve got the nerve! We also live far enough out in the country to have plenty of both inside and outside pets: four cats (two feral), and two dogs. We love our mountains and sitting in the swing on a warm summer evening.

Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?

My grandmother had so many! One of my favorites is, “You look like you’ve got the world by the tail on a downhill pull.”

Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?

Carolyn Keene, the pen name given to the authors of the Nancy Drew series; Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven series; and, as I got older, Victoria Holt. I think you write the types of books you enjoy reading. I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries and suspense novels, and I think these books set me on the path to writing those types of books also.

If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?

Only one? Hmmm…Poe or Shakespeare? Poe…or Shakespeare? I think I’d have to go with Shakespeare. No wait, Poe. No…I’ll go with Shakespeare.

What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?

I’m more inclined to say “write what you feel.” If you get characterization down, then your readers will care about your characters and your book. You can research all the things you don’t know; just be sure to breathe life into those characters.

Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?

Do a what-if session. Wherever you are in your story when writer’s block hits, list at least three what-ifs that could move the story forward. For example, the character is in her home at the point where you become blocked. A) What if she decides to go out? Where would she go? She could go the park where she would have an encounter with the person who is to turn out to be the villain (or love interest) in the story. B) What if there is a car accident outside her house? She could run outside and see that one of the people in the accident is someone she knew long ago. How could this be beneficial to the story and move the plot along? The old friend could have information vital to the mystery in the story or he/she could become an important secondary character. C) She could get a phone call that would be important to the plot. It could be a ruse by the villain to get her out of her home. It could be an actual emergency in which she’ll have to confront emotional issues she’s been avoiding. It could be a wrong number that ultimately points to the identity of the killer.

Tell us about your latest book.

In Claus of Death, Myrtle Crumb is going undercover again! When Tansie and Melvia drop in to tell Myrtle that the mall Santa committed suicide, Myrtle smells a Christmas rat. No self-respecting Santa would kill himself right there in Santa Land! She gets a job as Mrs. Claus to investigate Santa’s death and stumbles into a dangerous situation. In this third installment of the Myrtle Crumb mysteries, the sassy, sixty-something sleuth gets a job as Mrs. Claus to investigate the mysterious death of a mall Santa. Will she be able to wrap the case before Christmas or will she become the killer’s next victim?

Previous novellas in this popular Kindle series have included Between a Clutch and a Hard Place and When Good Bras Go Bad. Myrtle lives in a small town in Virginia with some crazy neighbors: Tansie, who is rich and boastful; Melvia, Tansie’s sweet sister; and Delphine, who makes yummy peanut butter fudge. Myrtle has a daughter named Faye and a granddaughter named Crimson, although Myrtle calls her “Sunny.”

About the Author:
Gayle-TrentGayle Trent is the author of two popular cozy mystery series–the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Series published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery imprint under her own name; and the Embroidery Mystery Series written for NAL/Penguin’s Obsidian imprint under the pseudonym Amanda Lee. Please visit Gayle’s website at http://www.gayletrent.com to find out more about her books, get recipes, print out free cross-stitch patterns, and sign up for her newsletter.

About the Book: Myrtle Crumb, the sassy, sixty-something sleuth from BETWEEN A CLUTCH AND A HARD PLACE and WHEN GOOD BRAS GO BAD, is suspicious when the mall Santa is found dead “on the throne”–the Santa Land throne, that is. The police are saying it was suicide, but Myrtle knows no self-respecting Santa Claus would let himself die in front of the children! She goes undercover to investigate the suicide and uncovers more than she bargained for!

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